Modernity, Democracy Are Only for the Privileged

by Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

Linked with Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd – Egypt, with The International Center for Islam and Pluralism ICIP, with The Qur’anic Concept of Justice.

The Egyptian scholar Hamid Abu Zayd criticizes the age-old border between the wealthy North and the impoverished South. It still exists, despite globalisation. Universal human values, however, cannot be a privilege restricted to the West.

“Globalization” is a ubiquitous word with many nuances. Nowadays, globalization primarily refers to the economic and political phenomenon which began in the sixties and has manifested itself as development towards a synchronized world market driven by multinational corporations.

Globalization has two distinct connotations, a positive one and a negative one. The international business world touts the positive aspects, whereas Third World politicians and intellectuals stress the negative. Large businesses view it as sign of progress, the Third World as the domination of international economic and political forces.

Capitalism as the dominant “world culture”: After the demise of the Soviet Union, the United States of America became the sole political world power. As a result, liberalism and capitalism became the global principles of the new world order, which marked the end of history, as maintained by Fukuyama. According to Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”, major conflicts in global politics arise between nations belonging to different civilizations. He identified seven of these nation/civilizations, two them being Islamic and Western civilization.

Now, the question is: Is it really possible to recognize the emergence of a world culture through the international criticism of globalization? In other words, would international criticism be considered as a form of cultural protest against the “culture of capitalism” which is inherent to globalization? And finally, does international criticism reflect the existence of a common culture, one which is the grounds for nurturing democracy/human rights and not only the economic needs of globalization?

If we look at Fukuyama’s concept of the end of history, it obviously suggests that a ‘world culture’ is being asserted, i.e. a capitalist culture with its elements of freedom and democracy. The concept of an end of history predicts the advent of a unified, democratic world of human rights built by the global capitalist system.

The triumph of the “American way of life”: (full long text).

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